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Does this sound like a typical hunter pace?

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  • Does this sound like a typical hunter pace?

    So, two friends and I went to our first hunter pace this past Sunday. Two of the horses we brought were fairly green, but the hunt assured us that the terrain would be easy (one of our horses was barefoot and we specifically asked if there would be rocky terrain. This hunt member said there wouldn't be) and that there would be go arounds for all of the jumps. This wasn't exactly the case.... The first options we came to included crossing a rocky creek and then jumping a pretty solid fence 15ft after (this was the jumping option) the non-jumping option was to go through water with VERY sharp rocks and then climb a very steep sheet (literally) of rock. There were several more water crossings and all had sharp rocky bottoms. Also, we had to climb up a very steep mountain side, which had several large patches of rocks. Some of the downhills were so steep and slippery, that we had to get off our horses and walk then down. We also had to cross a metal bridge that went over a rocky creek about 15ft below us ( which was nerve wracking since the bridge didn't have any sides and wasn't that wide...) Is it normal to encounter such terrain and obstacles on an average hunter pace, or was this a bit extreme?? I was sort of envisioning riding across rolling hills and jumping cross country type/ normal fox hunting jumps. There was some of that in this hunter pace, but a large part of it included going through very rocky and very steep terrain. We probably wouldn't have taken such green horses if we had known this in advance. However, we made it through and had a good time. I just would like to know if I should expect other hunter paces I may do in the future to be like this one, or was this hunter pace unusual? Thanks!
  • Original Poster

    #2
    Oh! Forgot to add that this hunter pace was in VA.

    Comment


    • #3
      That's the thing about hunter paces...

      They are all different! Once you get out there and do a bunch you will know which ones you like year after year. I used to go quite a bit and now I know that:

      Old Chatham in New York is looooonnnnnggggggggg and fast and you and your horse better be fit. My event horse and I were dragging after 9 miles and "slow" at 2 hours. The winners were all memebers of the hunt and must have galloped the whole darn thing at just under 1 hour. Beautiful terrain though.

      Tryon in Pomfret, CT is GORGEOUS and probably my favorite and doable even if you are not too fit/experienced. The fields with views are stunning.

      Norfolk Hunt in MA- another favorite although there is a rail road crossing that was a little unnerving the first time - riding along the tracks and then crossing over the actual raised tracks. Great jumps and galloping fields and glimpses into rather nice estates!

      Elm Knoll is/was super close by and PERFECT for first timers - nice wood chipped paths through the woods with some lovely fields and wide go arounds. Great to just hop over and go with whatever you could find to ride - my friend took her mule and my other friend rode her 3 year old for a first hurrah into "the wild". Not too long - maybe 5 miles.

      Vermont - probably won't be going back to any in Vermont. Rock city and they have the expectation of trotting if not cantering on many "dirt" roads. Mind you these dirt roads are just as hard packed as tarmac. We walked on these portions and it took us 3+ hours to complete and we were all sore for days - humans = butts and horses= feet. If you are used to it then I am sure it would be ok but we were not.

      Also factor in the experience factor. My partner for some of these is very back yard-y and she rides the trails all the time. We were on one hunter pace with a STEEP decline down to a narrow creek and then up the other side. I - who have evented Preliminary several times mind you - took a pause there as did my horse but my friend and her little QH tromped right down there - hopped the creek and scooted up the other side like it was nothing and then looked back at us and said, "well...are you coming?" I closed my eyes, gave a boot to my horse and grabbed mane and we survived no worse for the wear.

      Hunter paces are making a comeback with many riders these days I think as they are one of the last "reasonable" and FUN things to do with horses. Have a blast!

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm new to the hunter pace scene, but I've already learned that when the Hunt Gang says "flat", "easy", "smooth, and "low jumps", none of those are actually what I would consider flat, easy, smooth terrain with low jumps! I was a bit horrified the first few times I went out with an experienced fox hunter and hunter-pace lady--trotting and cantering through rocky mud, down slippery hills, and don't even think about slowing down to *walk* through the water crossings! Still, my AA hunter mare is a good sport. I boot up well, use a lot of saddle-tite and post ride liniment, and it's a fun (though I'm still on the fence if it's actually safe, haha) way to spend a fall or winter Saturday. I do have a higher "wimp out" threshold then the other folks, but it's a good break for canter circle, 8 jumps, circle. I live in OH.
        A good man can make you feel sexy, strong, and able to take on the world.... oh, sorry.... that's wine...wine does that...

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        • #5
          Fox hunters generally have a much higher tolerance for rocky, muddy, steep footing thatn show hunters or eventers. They are also, in many cases, accustomed to trotting on paved, or hard packed, roads. So yes, take "good footing" with a grain of salt.

          The first time I took Music - then 4 or 5 and jumping 2'6" - on a hunter pace (with my sister on her Prelim horse, Magic), there was a solid 3'6" coop with no way round other than backtracking a long way. Magic gave us a lead (he would not have let us go first no-matter-what) and Music jumped the big coop without a second thought. We actually ended up winning the non-hunt-members division.
          Janet

          chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Joyrider View Post

            Old Chatham in New York is looooonnnnnggggggggg and fast and you and your horse better be fit. My event horse and I were dragging after 9 miles and "slow" at 2 hours. The winners were all memebers of the hunt and must have galloped the whole darn thing at just under 1 hour. Beautiful terrain though.
            I did the Old Chatham hunter pace every year while in college and it is hard but tons of fun! Luckily the school horses were all super fit from hours in the ring and hunting every weekend, but we never came close to the time. Golden's Bridge was another favorite. Love going out across country that I didn't know with only some course markers to find my way - I was a lot more adventurous in those days...

            Comment


            • #7
              Yepper, there is no one thing that can describe a hunter pace. What you might consider rocky others might consider no big deal. What you consider a steep bank others might think is a little incline.


              If you are going to ask the organizer if the level is appropriate for you and your horse I suggest you describe your horse's ability (or restrictions) and ask if they feel the pace is a good match.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Thanks for the replies! I definitely want to do more hunter paces, I just would like to know what I'm in for so I don't over face/ hurt my horses. Unfortunately, my mare ( who has shoes on all 4) came up totally lame this morning with a stone bruise Amazingly, the barefoot horse that my friend rode is just fine. She must have some tough feet!

                Comment


                • #9
                  I think it really depends on the area the pace is located in. I live in central Va and I have been on several paces in the area and although there may be some mud and water crossings none are terribly difficult. All the fences had go arounds as they were basically more like cross country jumps for eventing rather than being part of a fenceline.My friend and I(it was her first pace) got 6th in senior optimum time on the flat and we really didn't move on too much due to mud, plowed field, and a few gravelly areas. There was one section where we had a fairly steep downhill, then steep uphill that was very washed out. The trail was quite narrow and you had to be sure that you didn't step into the washout (which was close to a foot deep). Luckily, it wasn't muddy in that area.
                  Last edited by Simbalism; Nov. 22, 2012, 02:48 AM. Reason: additional info

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hay! I used to hunter pace quite a bit. There were usually three divisions (Open, Novice and Hilltopping) and no matter what, I always did the Hilltopping division. This may be something only available at lower lever hunter paces but it allows more walking and trotting and there DEFINITELY are go-arounds.
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                    • #11
                      It definitely differs by hunt. Even here in Maryland the range if terrain is pretty vast (as is the time allowed). For instance, Goshen has always been pretty reasonable country, slightly rolling, while New Market Middletown is downright mountainous in comparison!

                      We always went the day before and walked the course so we knew what we were in for. Is that an option for the ones that you're attending?
                      Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Sing Mia Song View Post
                        It definitely differs by hunt. Even here in Maryland the range if terrain is pretty vast (as is the time allowed). For instance, Goshen has always been pretty reasonable country, slightly rolling, while New Market Middletown is downright mountainous in comparison!

                        We always went the day before and walked the course so we knew what we were in for. Is that an option for the ones that you're attending?
                        I'm the OP's friend who went with on this pace. Unfortunately because we're in southeast VA, the hunter paces are always in western or northern VA and a good 3-4 hour drive away. So unless we found a place to stable the horses over night and got a hotel, we wouldn't be able to walk the course. Do you seriously walk an 8 mile course? lol

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Satin Filly View Post
                          I'm the OP's friend who went with on this pace. Unfortunately because we're in southeast VA, the hunter paces are always in western or northern VA and a good 3-4 hour drive away. So unless we found a place to stable the horses over night and got a hotel, we wouldn't be able to walk the course. Do you seriously walk an 8 mile course? lol
                          **********
                          I've been "hunter pacing" all over the east coast for many, many years and have never heard of anyone "walking" a HP course. You don't "walk" a foxhunt course!!
                          OP...I thought you came to the HP we did last weekend here in OK!! Hills, more hills (read mountains) rocks, boulders, long rock sliding, down hills, LOTS of water walking, but good optional jumps!! I didn't know Va. was so rocky. Hope your horse gets over the bruises. Not ALL country is THAT rugged!!
                          www.crosscreeksporthorses.com
                          Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I love hunter pacing! It is great to get your horse and your head out of the ring for a while. After I've hunter paced (or just gone out cross country with friends wtc and jumping small logs), I always have a sense of accomplishment. Look Ma, I can ride half decently!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Satin Filly View Post
                              Do you seriously walk an 8 mile course? lol
                              Well, it's been few years since I've done one, but yeah, we did walk them. But they weren't 8 miles, either! Maybe 2-3.

                              Edited to add that today is Carrollton Hounds' hunter pace and the course is two miles. That's relatively standard around here.
                              Last edited by Sing Mia Song; Nov. 25, 2012, 12:41 PM.
                              Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                ???????

                                Walking the course???

                                I can't imagine. Our local hunter pace is also supposed to be a test of rider's knowledge of the territory. On the morning of the event, you're given a description of a hunt "Hounds were cast in Drewry's bottom and struck a line near the old well and ran a two mile point or McKay's Gate' etc.". You have to know the territory, including local names, and have a knowledge of hunting terms. The narrative of the hunt gives you clues to pace. You have to pass through a series of checkpoints an pick up markers, but other than that, you're free to chose your own track.

                                It's judged on optimum time, so knowledge of which member rode the course and set the optimum time is highly prized insider information.

                                Every hunt club has its own variations, but I'm still amazed by walking the course first.

                                To the OP, fox hunters have very different ideas about what constitutes good footing and simple obstacles than eventers or show riders, and I think you just encountered that disconnect. Sounds like you were more bothered by it than your horse, which is a nice recommendation for your horse. Hunter paces are a little more predictable and controlled than actual fox huntin, but it's a good idea to expect the unexpected.
                                The plural of anecdote is not data.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  As others have said, they are definitely all different! Try to learn more about each hunt hosting them, what their usual terrain is like, how fast their hunts are, etc. Some hunts ride over rocky steep terrain weekly, others travel more open fields and rolling hills like you envisioned, and one hunt I know of in PA even drag hunts through a very suburban area that has been built up around them. We did one yesterday in Unionville hosted by the DVCTA, and although it was beautiful it was rather short and there weren't any jumps, which was not what I expected from a Combined Training Association, but it was still a lovely ride and actually perfect for "green" horses such as yours, I think. It did have a few moderately steep up and down hills and three Brandywine Creek crossings, but I didn't bat an eye at them other than to think "ok, let's walk here". It left me wanting to go to another one right away, so I'd say if one left a bad taste in your mouth just keep it in the back of your head and explore a couple others that you might find will suit you better.

                                  I should add that at the start of the pace yesterday, the starter was kind enough to advise us ahead of time of the creek crossings, where the one muddy spot might be, the fact there were no jumps, and also about how long the trail would be (1hr 49 minutes if walking only). I thought that was very nice, and might have been helpful for a more timid horse or rider

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    A hunter pace is what the rider who lays it out decides to do on that day. It could be walking most of it, it could be galloping on. Whether it is with more rock outcroppings or less depends upon the hunt (parts of va/nc/pa are rolling, some are more rocky, depends upon the geographical area). What you pointed out is not unusual for hunting. And steep, imho is relative. Try hunting side saddle with Rappahanock...that is a trip (and no it is not 'gently rolling'....)
                                    I.D.E.A. yoda

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      "Old Chatham in New York is looooonnnnnggggggggg and fast and you and your horse better be fit. My event horse and I were dragging after 9 miles and "slow" at 2 hours. The winners were all memebers of the hunt and must have galloped the whole darn thing at just under 1 hour. Beautiful terrain though."

                                      We (OCH) do have beautiful terrain, thanks! We are thinking of starting our hunter pace back up in 2013, we took a break for a few years. Very much appreciated the feedback, I agree that it was very long and fast. We will be looking to modify that a bit this year. Keep an eye on our website for up to date information. Also here is a great resource for hunterpaces:
                                      http://www.findahunterpace.com/
                                      Susan
                                      http://community.webshots.com/user/ss3777
                                      www.longformatclub.com

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I hunted with Old Chatham back in the 60's and remember it well!!! A screaming run down a moutain pasture and the whole field aiming for ONE, four foot barway gate!! Jumping off a bank into a swollen Kinderhook River!! (Wearing new boots that were then filled with water for the rest of the day!!) Now THAT country will get your attention!! I'm too old for that "stuff" now!!!
                                        www.crosscreeksporthorses.com
                                        Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma

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